August 31, 2013 |
Joe Swanberg has long been a director whose films have been more widely talked about than actually seen. He has become controversial for his improvisational style of ultra-low-budget filmmaking, his frank depictions of sexuality and his central position in the oeuvre known as "mumblecore. " Following his first film, "Kissing on the Mouth," in 2005, Swanberg began to really break through with 2007's "Hannah Takes the Stairs" and 2009's "Alexander the Last," examinations of the foibles of self-discovery within the post-collegiate creative class.
August 19, 2013 |
Even before the late Steve Jobs, who is the subject of the poorly received bio-pic “Jobs,” became an oracle of the personal computer revolution some 30 years ago, computers and their like were a mainstay in film and television. Though most of these early movies were sci-fi thrillers such as 1956's “Forbidden Planet” and Stanley Kubrick's 1968 masterpiece “2001: A Space Odyssey,” which introduced the silky-voiced, villainous computer Hal, artificial intelligence was also central to the 1957 Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn romantic comedy “Desk Set.” Part of the fun of watching "Desk Set" today is seeing what passed as a sophisticated computer 56 years ago. The movie's EMARAC-Electromagnetic Memory and Research Arithmetical Calculator-is a massive elephantine structure that features bright blinking lights, two reel-to-reel tape contraptions and assorted beeps and bops sounds.
May 12, 2013 |
The romantic comedy "Putzel," starring Melanie Lynskey and Susie Essman, will have its L.A. premiere as the opening night presentation at the eighth Los Angeles Jewish Film Festiva l on June 1 at the Writers Guild Theater in Beverly Hills. Other films in the festival, which continues through June 6 at various locations, include the world premiere of Ron Frank's documentary "When Comedy Went to School," which looks at the legendary comedians who got their start in the resorts in the Catskill mountains, including Sid Caesar, Mel Brooks and Jackie Mason.
April 25, 2013 |
Melancholy and middle America aren't usually seen in the rom-com world. In "Arthur Newman," a romantic comedy that unfolds during a road trip to Terra Haute, Ind., they are refreshingly unexpected elements that soften us up for the rough patches the film hits along the way. Also working in the film's favor are Colin Firth and Emily Blunt, both well-versed in comedy and about as appealing on screen as actors come. They star as a couple of depressed souls whose paths cross one night at the edge of a seedy motel swimming pool.
March 22, 2013 |
A fraught romantic comedy shot through with anxiety about getting your child into an Ivy League school or else, "Admission" stars Tina Fey as a Princeton University admissions officer with a secret. Her genial foil is Paul Rudd, who runs a rural New Hampshire high school that's a progressive Eden of alternative educational grooviness. How these two nice, attractive, funny people find each other is up to the machinery of the source material, a novel by Jean Hanff Korelitz, adapted with mixed success for the screen by Karen Croner and directed with a calming glow by Paul Weitz, whose attention to relational detail was evident in "About a Boy," "In Good Company" and, more recently, "Being Flynn.
March 18, 2013 |
After a 911 call, a disastrous haircut, an alcoholic relapse, two Q-Tip-related emergencies and countless stalker-y emails and text messages, Adam and Hannah, the oddball couple at the center of “Girls,” are finally back together. Yay, I guess? On Sunday night a season of “Girls” that had increasingly begun to feel like a premium-cable version of “My Strange Addiction” suddenly -- and not altogether convincingly -- morphed into a romantic comedy, complete with a sentimental and semi-absurd reunion that found Adam, bare-chested as usual, racing down the street to rescue his house-bound and unhinged ex. (In a sure sign of their compatability, Hannah eschews pants nearly as emphatically as Adam rejects shirts; together they make a whole outfit.)
January 17, 2013 |
There are slivers of wit embedded in the broad shtick of "Let My People Go!," a home-for-the-holidays romantic comedy for which home is a noisy Parisian clan, the holiday is Passover and the prodigal son is a gay 30ish mailman whose usual state of mind is the tizzies. The road to the inevitable slapsticky Seder is paved with more sweetness than bite, a good deal of frantic foolishness and progressively thinner laughs, all wrapped in a message of acceptance and inclusiveness. Scripted by first-time director Mikael Buch and art-house auteur Christophe Honoré, the farce is by turns fresh and fusty.
December 27, 2012 |
The American Cinematheque's Aero Theatre has the perfect antidote for holiday blues -- a series of classic comedies from the golden age of Hollywood. "Screwball Comedy Classics for the 2013 New Year" serves up 1947's "The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer" Thursday evening. Cary Grant stars as the bachelor and Shirley Temple is the bobby-soxer who has a crush on him. Myrna Loy plays her older sister who also thinks Grant is quite dishy. Sidney Sheldon won an Oscar for his screenplay. Rounding out the double bill is an even funnier romantic comedy, 1943's "The More the Merrier," directed by George Stevens and starring Jean Arthur, Joel McCrea and supporting actor Oscar winner for the film, Charles Coburn.
December 20, 2012 |
The South Korean import "Whatcha Wearin'?" is as sweet and silly and, at times, raunchy as any Hollywood-hatched romantic comedy. Still, even if it's not all that distinguishable from its stateside brethren, the film manages enough sparkly charm and warm comedy to offer a few hours of featherweight fun. The meet-cute here between the recently dumped Hyun-Seung (Ji Sung) and the long-partnered Yun-jung (Kim Ah-joong) involves an accidental phone sex session that's contrived, but also amusing and sexy.
November 29, 2012 |
With its stock characters and low-expectation high jinks, the German import "What a Man" could have been fabricated on the Hollywood rom-com assembly line. The directing debut of screen star Matthias Schweighöfer, who also co-scripted and plays the lead, fits all too neatly into a familiar mold: In romantic crisis, a milquetoast does a bunch of stupid things on the way to finding true love and locating his spine. The formulaic aspect wouldn't be a problem, though, if the material (co-written by Doron Wisotzky)